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Alumni Awards

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By Krystle Gladu
Senior Student & Alumni Affairs Representative, American Public University System

As a community of learners at American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), we firmly believe in celebrating and recognizing our outstanding students, alumni, and faculty for their dedication to service, education, and their professional field. Four distinct alumni awards recognize exceptional graduates and alumni members and are awarded on an annual basis:

  • Alumni Community Service Award
  • Alumni Education Award
  • Distinguished Graduate Award
  • University Service Award

The following is a full list of the recipients of the 2015 Alumni Awards for AMU and APU.

Alumni Community Service Award: Sherry Kotara

This award recognizes exceptional alumni who have made significant contributions in the spirit of the university’s commitment to service and who have rendered distinctive service to their community or to society as a whole. It recognizes alumni who exemplify creative and continuous personal growth and a willingness to embrace our changing world.

Sherry received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from AMU in February 2014. She served a full-time role for 12 months with AmeriCorps as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) and worked with the Snack in a Pack program to increase their funding by 13%. In 2013, she continued her commitment to service locally and helped with a flash flood clean up in her community. She was also selected to participate in the 2014-2015 Class of Leadership in Pulaski County, a selective community-based leadership program, where she was elected class president.

Alumni Education Award: Eugenie de Silva

This university award recognizes exceptional alumni whose excellence in higher education merits recognition and whose example will inspire others. In order to reaffirm to the public and the graduating class of the broad significance and relevance of American Public University System as one of the leading service institutions, candidates receiving this award must be graduates with careers in the field of higher education or those that promote and encourage continuous learning.

Eugenie de Silva completed her Bachelor of Arts in Intelligence Studies in May 2013 and her Master of Arts in Intelligence Studies in May 2014, both with AMU. She earned her bachelor’s degree at the age of fourteen, and her master’s degree just one year later, achieving several world records at the same time. She was presented with the Luce Leader 2015 award in recognition of her devotion to academic pursuits and her aim to better humanity. She is the editor of “National Security and Counterintelligence in the Era of Cyber Espionage”, and “Applying Methods of Scientific Inquiry into Intelligence, Security, and Terrorism Studies”, both to be published in 2015. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Walters State Community College, the Head of Online Education Programs at Virginia Research Institute, a University Ambassador, she organizes educations conferences, and coordinates the annual “Physics and Chemistry Days” in Virginia and Tennessee. She recently completed a second master’s degree in Liberal Arts, from Harvard University DCE. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in politics at the University of Leicester, England.

Distinguished Graduate Award

The Distinguished Graduate Award recognizes exceptional graduates who have set themselves apart by making significant contributions to our nation and/or their communities and who have demonstrated a strong interest in supporting a lifetime of military or public service. It honors graduates whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and service embody the characteristics and spirit of the university’s mission of service and leadership in our diverse global society.

Noah Rivers and Robert Mazza are the 2015 recipients of the Distinguished Graduate Award.  Noah received his Bachelor of Arts in Intelligence Studies from AMU in August 2014. Noah has only been in the Air Force for two and a half years and yet was recognized in 2013 as the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and Wright-Patterson AFB Airman of the Year, as well as the National System for Geospatial Intelligence Junior Enlisted Member of the Quarter, and later, Junior Enlisted of the Year across all U.S. military branches worldwide. He volunteers in his local community where he has filled three separate chapel guidance committee chair positions, organized and led two Habitat for Humanity house-building efforts, tutored grade school children at two different local schools, spent over 700 hours playing music and creating and running multi-media presentations at the Wright-Patterson base chapel, and helped mentor local school children as a paid basketball official. Noah was awarded early promotion through the Air Force’s Senior-Airman Below-the-Zone program, achieved the number one overall test score in his career field during Staff Sergeant testing, which he accounts to his education received from AMU, worked as a CPR instructor to train 48 military members, and was selected to attend Air Force Officer Training School.

Robert Mazza received his Master of Business Administration from AMU in May 2013. Robert dedicates his free time working with the injured or ill, by sitting with them at night and assisting them in coming to terms with what happened to them. He is certified in first aid courses, has taught tactical courses, as well as Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), and trained hundreds in leadership, management, and medical skills. In addition, he assisted with the deployment preparation of his medical battalion to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. Robert participated in the Council of College and Military Educators (CCME), evaluated and improved military medical training, and received the following medals; Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Naval commendation and Achievement Medals, and three Volunteer Service Medals.

University Service Award

The University Service Award recognizes exceptional alumni who have made significant contributions in the spirit of the university’s motto of service and who have rendered distinctive service to the university. It honors graduates whose selfless commitment and consistent involvement to the university as a whole have exemplified the university’s ideals.

Lewis Taylor received his Bachelor of Arts in History from AMU in February 2013. Lewis became the president of the university’s Saber and Scroll club for the 2013 — 2014 election year. He increased membership and involvement, created the annual meeting held during commencement weekend, and planned a field trip to Gettysburg and Antietam battlefields, where about 30 members from Saber and Scroll, as well as their families, attended. Since his presidency, membership has grown to over 1,000 members and Saber and Scroll has achieved Gold Chapter Status with the university. Lewis is also involved with Pi Gamma Mu (PGM). He started on the PGM Advisory Board, and was most recently elected to serve as their Social Director for the 2014-2015 year. He serves as a University Ambassador, and in 2014 he represented our university at Wreaths Across America at Cape Cod National Cemetery in Bourne, Ma. In addition, Lewis is an active member in a number of additional organizations that include: Student Veterans of America, where he is a candidate for the Vice President role; R.E.A.D, where he serves as their Vice President and Social Media Director and The Ancient Order of the Craft, where he serves as Senior Warden. He is also in the process of working with our university’s Student Affairs Department to establish a history honor society.

Please join us in congratulating the recipients of the 2015 alumni awards! Their commitment to excellence and their accomplishments have set them apart as leaders and earned them this recognition. We are proud to call them members of our alumni family! If you are interested in telling us about your accomplishments, we will begin accepting applications and nominations for our 2016 Alumni Awards in the fall of 2015. If you would like more information on these awards, please visit our website.

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